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Golfers Ranked Inside 2018 Forbes Sport Rich List

By: | Thu 07 Jun 2018 | Comments

IF ANYBODY ever tries to tell you that there isn’t serious money to be made at the highest levels in sport, point them in the direction of the 2018 Forbes list of the 100 highest-paid athletes. It makes for eye-watering reading.

Top of the pile is the boxer Floyd Mayweather - for the fourth time in seven years, no less - who coined a staggering $285m. Remember that these are his earnings for one year, not his total wealth. Much of that came from his so-called “fight” with UFC star Conor McGregor, which just goes to prove that it is actually possible to fool some of the people some of the time. McGregor had never before fought a professional boxing match.

Mayweather unseated Real Madrid footballer Cristiano Roanldo, who drops to third place with $108m behind Barcelona and Argentina star Lionel Messi, who earned $111m in 2017.

And where, we hear you ask, is the top golfer in the list? Well Mayweather, Ronaldo and Tiger Woods are the only three athletes to top the best-paid list over the past 18 years. Woods ranks 16th this year with $43.3m - and that is a pretty impressive figure when you consider that the 14-time major champion did not hit a golf shot in anger throughout the whole of 2017. Yes, he competed at the Hero World Challenge in December, but that was his only competitive outing of the year as he recovered from back surgery, and it was an invitational event. It is safe to assume that Woods will soar up the list in 12 months time thanks to the form he has demonstrated during his unlikely and heartwarming comeback.

And if he can finally land that elusive 15th major, the 42-year-old American could easily find himself back at the top of the pile. And who would ever have thought that might happen? 

By general consensus, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy had one of the most disappointing years of his career, finishing 2017 without a single victory. Nevertheless, he still figures in 26th place in the list with $37.5m, $34m of which came from sponsorship and endorsements.

There are three other golfers in the list. Phil Mickelson is 22nd with $41.3m in earnings - $4.3m in prize money and $37m from sponsorship. Just behind him is Jordan Spieth with earnings of $41.2m, a staggering $11.2m of which came in prize money earned on the course.

The final golfer in the top 100 is Justin Thomas, with $26m. Thomas earned a scarcely-believable $21m on the course and is currently the world’s top-ranked golfer, but he has a long, long way to go before he can come anywhere close to the likes of Woods, Mickelson and McIlroy in off-the-course earnings.

Perhaps the biggest surprise about the list is that it does not contain a single woman. In the past, tennis players Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have figured, but Williams took time out to have a baby, while Sharapova has suffered as a result of a drugs ban. Williams just missed out with earnings of $18m, while Sharapova still managed to earn $16m, almost all of it from sponsors who remained to loyal to her.

The 100 highest-paid athletes earned a collective $3.8 billion during the past 12 months, up 23% from last year. Unsurprisingly, the list is dominated by stars from the NBA and American football, with the man in 100th place being Charlotte Hornets wing player Nicholas Batum on only $22.9m. Erm, hands up if you have ever heard of Batum?

The latest list features athletes from 11 different sports, with basketball leading the way with 40 contenders. There are five golfers in the list,  18 American footballers, 14 baseball players,  nine footballers, four boxers, four tennis players, three racing drivers, and one each from cricket (Virat Kohli), mixed-martial arts (McGregor) and athletics (Usain Bolt).

You may wonder why there are so many basketball players in the list - and who wouldn’t? It is on account of the staggering $24 billion TV deal the NBA managed to negotiate.

British racing driver Lewis Hamilton is 12th in the list, with boxer Anthony Joshua 25th - and sure to rise if he can continue knocking out opponents.

The top 10 is as follows:

  1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. ($285m)
  2.  Lionel Messi ($111m)
  3.  Cristiano Ronaldo ($108m)
  4.  Conor McGregor ($99m)
  5.  Neymar ($90m)
  6.  LeBron James ($85.5m)
  7.  Roger Federer ($77.2m)
  8.  Stephen Curry ($76.9m)
  9. Matt Ryan ($67.3m)
  10.  Matthew Stafford ($59.5m)

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